DEPUE — Two totally opposite halves of basketball were played Friday night during Tri-County Conference play in DePue. The Henry-Senachwine Mallards used a huge second half to propel themselves to a 68-37 win over the DePue Little Giants.
DePue built a small lead in the first quarter but it was short-lived as Mallard guard Deven Guelde cut hard through the lane for a layup giving Henry an 11-10 lead with 1:03 left to play in the first.
DePue wouldn’t regain the lead for the remainder of play as Henry picked up the intensity on both ends of the floor and dusted off their early offensive and defensive struggles.
Midway through the second quarter Henry’s halfcourt trap began to frustrate the Little Giants’ offense as they used their length and size to tip passes and create easy scoring opportunities off of layups at the other end.
Henry used this defensive spark to dominate the remainder of play.
DePue senior guard Jose Raya kept the Little Giants in contention as he drilled two 3-pointers from the same spot just left of the top of they key with under 2:30 to play in the first half to keep his team within striking distance.
DePue trailed 29-21 at the half and didn’t get any closer for the remainder of the contest.
“I thought we played great for about two quarters but we just could not hit a shot. We had to hit some shots to stay in the game and we didn’t,” DePue coach Charlie Klinefelter said. “We definitely turned the ball over way too many times and coming out at halftime we were down by 8, we played tough on defense but we started letting them get out and run their transition game. Henry is a tough team.”
The Little Giants never found a solution to the Mallards’ defense as Henry continued to pressure the ball as its team defense continued to get better and more dominant as the game progressed.
“Their trap is fantastic. They have guys with long arms, and they did a great job trapping the ball and getting easy layups off of our turnovers,” Klinefelter said.
The Mallards jumped all over the Little Giants early in the third as they scored the first seven points of the half, including four from Nathan Helle who went on a tear during the third quarter scoring 15 of his game-high 29 points.
Henry outscored the Little Giants 20-6 in the third quarter, opening up a huge 49-27 lead.
Senior guard Jesse Lopez led the DePue Little Giants offensively with 10 points, Raya (9) and senior guard Isaac Reyes with 8.
“It got rough for us in the second half. No matter what we did on offense we just couldn’t hit a shot and it’s tough to win ball games like that,” Klinefelter said.